All Together Now

All Together Now cover

Hope Larson’s All Together Now is the second book in the Eagle Rock trilogy, which began with All Summer Long. While the first book dealt with Bina’s lonely summer, this volume tackles creativity and relationships. (Eagle Rock is the name of the Los Angeles neighborhood where Bina lives.)

Bina and her friend Darcy have a band, but they need a drummer. They find Enzo, but adding a new person means the relationships change, particularly once Darcy and Enzo start dating. Bina finds herself left out of the band that she started.

Larson’s simply styled art makes the story easy to read. There’s an appeal to the soap opera-ish “and then what happened,” but I found this book fascinating because of what Bina doesn’t do.

All Together Now cover

There’s no implication that she needs to fall in love or find someone, in spite of her friends beginning to date. Instead, she’s focused on making the right music for her. She’s given some amazing opportunities, but she’s also shown as smart enough to realize that she doesn’t have to say yes if she’s not ready.

We don’t see enough portraits of a young woman who finds satisfaction and value in a creative endeavor. I love that Bina charts a different path. She’s given some great advice, too, midway through the book, that “the best revenge is doing it better,” that she should be “productively upset,” and that making more personal art means no one else can take her work.

All Together Now explores the nature of inspiration, the uncertainty of whether to date a friend, and how to patch up a relationship with someone who’s hurt you. These are big topics that don’t underestimate young readers. It’s inspiring to see them portrayed so honestly.

(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)

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